3 Signs You Need to Upgrade to Full Event Management Software

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Updated 10/3/2017: This article has been updated to include software options.

Are you trying desperately to manage your events with your membership management system but constantly feeling limited? Are you trying to go more in depth with marketing your event but coming up short, or making travel arrangements but losing track of information?

Membership management solutions can be great for helping with your events –they can provide you with an events calendar, take online payments, help with your budget, and produce reports, among other things.  But there are systems out there that can take you even further—what if you want custom event websites? Or event email marketing? Or workflow management?

Use these following three indicators to see if you need a separate event management system instead of managing events with your membership system. If you decide that upgrading to an event management system is right for you, we’ve provided a few software recommendations as well as some resources to help you find what you need.

1. You need more complex event marketing

When your events become detailed and complicated enough to need their own website and require serious promotion as well, you’ll find that dedicated event management systems have more advanced event marketing features than those within a membership management solution.

Several marketing and promotion features that come standard in an event management solution are:

  • Event website designer
  • Social promotion tools
  • Email marketing
  • Event promotion listings

There are many things trending in event marketing that event management software can help you with—things such as GPS, real-time event tracking, and creating an event within an event.

Michael Hart, founder of an agency called Mono, says about GPS and real-time event tracking:

“It’s something that someone can participate in and watch and see in real-time. . .that connection with another event, is really new and the power of new is huge. If it feels like a different experience—if it captures your fascination, that’s what really gets passed along, and builds the press and community around it.”

2. Your event planning process is overwhelming

When your event planning process starts to overwhelm you and gets overly complex, an event management system can provide more workflow management to help you organize tasks and processes for your events.

Typically they will provide the functionality to track task completion as the timeline progresses, set automated “to-do” emails to be sent out to various staff members to remind them of due dates for certain tasks or projects, create a complete task list, assign certain approval rights to specific people, and schedule reminders, confirmations, invitations, follow-up emails for after the event, and other types of notes.

3. Your events have grown big enough to require housing and travel management

If your events become large enough that your attendees will be traveling in from all over, having a system that can integrate with travel and housing tools (such as Cvent) so that your event planners can transfer traveler information to airlines and hotels without having to pay for anything extra is a big bonus. Having this feature within your event management system will allow you to communicate with travel agents, venues and, of course, your attendees to manage reservations and accommodations.

Some of the travel and housing features in an event solution include:

  • Tracking and managing roommate requests
  • Personalized itineraries
  • Directions and confirmations
  • Tracking flight details
  • Coordinating pick up schedules
  • Collecting requests regarding personal preferences on hotel stays, car rentals, and flights

These solutions can also offer added benefits such as meeting management and employee/volunteer management, both of which are some of the most highly used features for event planners according to our survey.

But maybe all you need is a membership management solution

After reading all of that, if you’ve determined that you don’t need a separate event management system, here are some of the features you can expect to get for event management within a membership management system:

  • Events calendar
  • Online registration
  • Custom-tiered pricing for tickets
  • View event reports
  • Online payments
  • Set event budget and track profitability
  • Create and send invoices
  • Event participation history

These features might be all you need, and if so, you’re all set to manage events with the functionality that your membership management system provides.

Event management software options

At Capterra we rank the most popular, most affordable, and most user-friendly event management software options, complete with reviews and ratings on our website. In case you needed somewhere to start, here are the number one options from each list:

Most Popular: Eventbrite

Eventbrite is a web-based event management software service that allows you to market your event to potential guests as well as manage your ticketing services.

Features:

  • Attendee management
  • Badge management
  • Client/customer management
  • Guest list management
  • Registration management
  • Social promotion
  • Surveys and feedback
  • Ticketing

For more information and reviews, visit the Eventbrite vendor page.

Most Affordable: iVvy Event Management

via IVvy Event Management

This enterprise-level event management software has a full roster of useful features as well as a perfect five-star rating on Capterra. The drag and drop website builder is especially perfect for event planners without a lot of web designing experience.

Features: 

  • Attendee management
  • Badge management
  • Catering management
  • Client/customer management
  • Exhibit/vendor management
  • Guest list management
  • Lead retrieval
  • Registration management
  • Room block management
  • Social promotion
  • Space/room setup
  • Sponsorship management
  • Surveys and feedback
  • Ticketing
  • Travel management

For more information and reviews, visit the iVvy vendor page.

Most User-Friendly: Ticketbud

via Ticketbud

Ticketbud is built more for event registration, however it does carry most of the necessary event management features, such as event page creation, event social promotion, payment processing, and calendar tracking.

Features: 

  • Activity registration
  • Attendance management
  • Calendar management
  • Class registration
  • Contact management
  • Form builder
  • Group registration
  • Marketing management
  • Online registration
  • Onsite registration
  • Payment processing
  • Refund automation
  • Self check-In
  • Surveys and feedback

For more information and reviews, visit the Ticketbud vendor page!

More on event management software

Know of any more good tools or cool functionalities for event management, or any other bonuses of having a separate EMS? Add them in the comments below!

The Capterra Event Management blog is full of guides and lists that will help you stay up to date on the newest event news and software. If you enjoyed this piece, here are a few others that may interest you:

Looking for Event Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Event Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a former Capterra analyst.

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Hi Leah!

This is a great article. I actually work for an Event Management Software company (Our Capterra profile: https://www.capterra.com/event-management-software/spotlight/139093/CadmiumCD/CadmiumCD) and couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said here.

I think a lot of planners with smaller meetings might look at this though and feel left out. This type of technology isn’t just for the bloated events of the world. Most full event management software platforms out there allow planners to come on board with just a few products to wet their feet with.

Speaker and Exhibitor Management or Session Scheduling tools, for example, can help the planner get away from Excel and Email and have an actual system for managing all the data they have to collect and organize.

As their events grow, so can their software!

Anyway, I wanted to share a similar article I wrote that expands on the reasons why upgrading to full Event Management Software is a good idea. Here it is:
http://cadmiumcd.com/cadmiumcd/article.asp?ID=event-management-software

Enjoy!

[…] become detailed and complicated enough to need their own website and require serious promotion,” reads a post on the Capterra blog, “you’ll find that dedicated event management systems have more advanced marketing features than […]

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